Grammar pet peeves
If you think you’re (whoops!) your minor grammar errors are no big deal, think again! These little mistakes drive your readers crazy. Especially if that person happens to be an English teacher, college prof, word nerd, punctuation purist, or professional editor! Reader’s Digest spoke with two grammar experts and uncovered the small mistakes you’re making that can make any knowledgeable reader irrepressibly furious. Pay attention to these not-so-insignificant, easy-to-fix, and all-too-common grammar errors.
Their vs there vs they’re
Writer Katy Koontz, editor-in-chief at Unity Magazine and a book editor for best-selling authors, says her adrenaline spikes just thinking about common grammar errors. Koontz reveals, “mixing up ‘their’ and ‘there’ is probably my biggest pet peeve – you could add ‘they’re’ to the mix, too, but most mistakes involve the first two.” So, how can you make sure to use the right form of this common homonym (that’s a word pronounced the same, but with different meanings)? First, keep in mind, ‘they’re’ is a contraction for ‘they are,’ as in ‘they’re annoying.’ Next, ‘there’ can be an adverb, pronoun, or a noun indicating a state or condition. Gertrude Stein famously dissed her hometown while demonstrating the pliancy of the word ‘there’ when she wrote “there is no there there.” Finally, ‘their’ is the possessive form of the pronoun ‘they’– its inclusive form (as a pronoun for non-binary folks) was recently added to the dictionary.
You’re vs your
How often do you substitute ‘your’ when you mean ‘you’re’? Koontz offers that “mixing up ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ is incredibly common – and incredibly annoying.” Word aficionados get particularly irked with this grammar snafu despite the irony in reading such examples as “Your an idiot!” or “You’re jokes are terrible!” Remember that ‘you’re’ is a contraction meaning ‘you are’. Got it? Great! You’re smart. ‘Your’ is the possessive form of ‘you’, as in ‘your big brain’, ‘your gorgeous prose’, or ‘your annoying error’. Switch these two forms at your peril.